Batchelor says that the Ainu believe in one Supreme Being, Creator of all worlds, whom they call Kotan Kara Kamui, Moshiri Kara Kamui, Kando Koro Kami- 'the maker of places and worlds, and possessor of heaven'. Kamui means, in the first place, 'he who' or 'that which is greatest' or 'best' or 'worst'; a secondary (or more modern) meaning is 'he who' or 'that which covers' or 'overshadows'. In both meanings the word is akin to that for 'heaven', which itself has for its root a word signifying 'top' or 'above'. When applied to good powers kamui is a title of respect; and when the evil gods are called by this name it implies the fear or dread inspired by them. Besides these names, the Ainu sometimes refer to their Supreme Being under the title Tuntu, which means 'pillar', 'support', 'upholder'. He is the Creator, 'the summit, centre, and foundation (of the world), its originator and mighty "Support".'
Batchelor thinks that the Ainu. regard this being is (i) the creator and preserver of the world; (ii) the sustainer of men in general; (iii) the special protector of every individual, with whom men can communicate in prayer..
There is, according to the Ainu belief, also a multitude of less important deities, who are subject to the highest, and carry out his decrees. By their means he created and still sustains the world and mankind. Some of these gods are benevolent and have a double who is malignant. E.g. there are two gods of the sea called Rep un kamui. They are brothers. The younger, Mo acha, 'uncle of peace', is beneficent to man, bringing fair weather for fishing: while his elder brother, Shi acha, is an evil deity who chases Alo acha from the seaside, and brings bad weather to spoil the fishing and wreck the boats.' Similarly with other deities of the waters, Wakka-ush kamui. These are female, and have charge of springs, streams, waterfalls, lakes, and ponds. Chiwash ekot mat, 'female possessor of places where fresh and salt waters mingle', watches over river-mouths and allows the fish to go in and out. Nusa, i. e. clusters of kema-ush-inao, or 'legged inao' (i. e. inao tied to stakes thrust into the ground), are set up by the water as sacrifices to these gods. Pet-ru-ush mat, 'females of the waterways', have oversight of all streams from the source to the sea. They, too, are worshipped with offerings of nusa, and appealed to for protection in descending the rapids, and for good fortune in fishing. Sarak kamui, on the other hand, is the evil god of the rivers. The word sarak denotes accidental death, and this god is said to bring about death not only by drowning, but also by mishap of any kind.
The goddess of the sun is generally regarded as the chief of the secondary gods, for she is considered to be the special ruler of all good things in the universe. There is also a god of the moon. Some consider the moon a female, and the sun a male; but the majority speak of the sun as being female. These luminaries would seem to be regarded rather as the dwellings of deities than as being deities themselves. If the god of the sun or of the moon depart from their dwellings, the day or the night is darkened. Hence the fear which the Ainu have of eclipses.
The stars are not worshipped, though the term kamui ('god') is sometimes applied to them. The Milky Way, or 'river of the gods', crooked river', is a favourite resort of the gods for fishing.
Next in importance to the deity of the sun is the goddess of fire. She warms the body, heals sickness, enables man to cook his food. She is especially to be feared because she is a witness to note the acts and words of men. Hereafter they are punished or rewarded, says Batchelor, according to her testimony concerning their actions in life. It appears that it is not the fire which is worshipped, but the goddess residing in the fire.
'Every Ainu hut is supposed to have its special guardian god who is thought to rest upon the roof when the master is at home, and give warning of approaching danger, and who accompanies the head of a family when he goes forth to his wars and on his hunting expeditions. Batchelor says also that they believe that every person has his own protecting spirit.
Traditions inform us that the gods gather themselves together and consult with one another as to ways and means before they act, the Creator, of course, acting as president, just in the same
way as the Ainu chiefs used to meet together for consultation before they acted.'
If an Ainu finds that the particular god worshipped does not answer his prayer, he appeals to the Creator, sometimes even accusing the lesser god to him of neglecting his duty.
They believe that their first ancestor, whom they call Aioina kamui, became divine, and, as Batchelor says,. 'has now the superintendence of the Ainu race'.
The Ainu believe in evil as well as in good spirits. The chief evil spirit is Nitne kamui, and there are also other malignant beings who preside over accidents and diseases of the body and mind.
The souls both of animals and men are believed to survive bodily death; and, according to Batchelor, the Ainu belief in a judgement of souls is strong and well defined.
The Ainu believe that the soul will inhabit after death a body almost exactly resembling that which it has occupied in life; and that the community of souls in the future life, in its pursuits and enjoyments, is practically the same as the Ainu community on earth. Souls can revisit this earth as ghosts whenever they desire to do so and some of the living also have the power to go among the ghosts in their dwelling-place. In neither case can the visitor make himself heard, but he himself can both see and hear.
The ghosts of deceased women are greatly feared, and that of an old woman especially is believed to have an extraordinary capacity for doing harm to the living. Even while alive on earth old women have great power over men, and children are much afraid of them. Formerly the hut in which the oldest woman of a family died was burnt after her death to prevent the spirit returning to work mischief to her offspring and to her sons- and daughters-in-law. The soul returning from the grave to exercise its spells upon the living was thus unable to find its former home, and wandered about for a time in a furious rage. During this period the grave was carefully avoided.
All souls go first to Pokna-Moshiri, the underworld. Here there are three roads, one leading to Kanna-Moshiri, 'the upper world', our world; another to Kamui-Kotan, 'the place of god', or Kamui-Moshiri, 'the kingdom' or 'world of god'; and the third to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri, 'the wet underground world'. On reaching Pokna-Moshiri, the soul is sent, on the testimony of the goddess of fire, either to Kamui-Kotan or to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri, to be rewarded for a good life, or punished for an evil one. If the spirit denies having done evil, he is confronted by a picture representing his whole life which is in the possession of the fire-goddess. 'Thus the spirit stands self-condemned' to punishment in Teinei-Pokna-Shiri.
Some of the Ainu hold that women, who are considered inferior to men 'both spiritually and intellectually', have 'no souls, and this is sometimes stated as a reason why women are never allowed to pray'. But Batchelor thinks that the real reason for this prohibition is that the Ainu are afraid that the women will appeal to the gods against their ill-treatment by the men.
Such are the views attributed by Batchelor to the Ainu about a future judgement, heaven, and hell. According to Chamberlain, these conceptions are not original with the Ainu. He says: 'Some of the Ainos say that Paradise is below the earth, and Hell below that again. But as they use the modern Japanese Buddhist names for those places, they would appear to be, consciously or unconsciously, giving a foreign tinge to their old traditions. The fact that many Aino fairy-tales mention Hades under the name of Pokna Moshiri, while none seemingly mention Heaven or Hell, favours the view that no moral thread was woven into the idea of the next world as originally conceived by the Aino mind.'